first_img Matawan Nothing can beat being the first at something. Just ask the Matawan High School girls soccer team that captured the program’s first-ever state sectional title.“We were the first ones to make a difference,” said forward Rebecca Labinger. “We did it with teamwork and heart. We’re a very close team.”Labinger scored the lone goal of the game on Nov. 10 when the Huskies edged Freehold Borough, 1-0, in Freehold to win the NJSIAA Central Jersey Group III state sectional title, the program’s first success at the state level.Amanda Carmichael delivered a through ball that bounced over a Colonial defender and found its way onto Labinger’s foot.“I saw the ball coming and saw the [Freehold] defender was going to miss it,” she said. “I settled the ball and just hit it and hoped it went in.”It did, and the Huskies had a 1- 0 lead in the 25th minute.“That [Labinger’s goal] was huge for us,” said Matawan head coach Ken McCabe. “It gave us confidence.”Confidence is something that grew for the Huskies with each state playoff victory.It began with a 1-0 win over Hamilton in the first round on Krista Conzo’s firsthalf goal. In the quarterfinals, the Huskies’ Ashley Beccia tied the match with Nottingham at 1-1 in the second half. Neither team scored again in regulation or overtime, and it went to a penalty kick shootout, which Matawan won, 3-2.In the semifinals, the Huskies trailed Ocean Township 1-0 at the half but scored three times in the second half to advance to their first-ever sectional final. Conzo scored twice and Labinger notched the other. Both Conzo and Labinger had assists, as did Lisa Pabon. It was now on to Freehold for the final, where the upstarts were facing one of CJ Group III’s powerhouses. The Colonials were playing in their fourth sectional final in the last six years, having won three straight from 2006-08.It was a tall task, but the Colonials were facing a very motivated Husky team with seven seniors who wanted to do something special before they graduated.McCabe said he had a talk with his club prior to the start of the state tournament, putting everything in perspective for the girls.“I told them they’ve had a good season,” he said. “I asked them how they wanted to be remembered: as a team that had a good season, or one that would be remembered forever. They will be remembered forever.”Before the Huskies would become Matawan’s forever team, they had to hold off a spirited Colonial effort in the second half. They were not going to go out quietly on their home pitch.“I knew they would pressure us the second half,” said McCabe. “We did a good job of keeping the ball deep in their zone.”Keeper Karen David was a difference maker with her aggressiveness playing corner kicks and restarts.When the horn sounded to end the game, a huge celebration followed with a large contingent of Matawan students and parents joining the celebration.“This is great for Matawan soccer and the community,” said McCabe.The Huskies still had one game to play, against Moorestown in the Group III semifinal Nov. 15 at Toms River North High School. The Huskies’ (13-8-1) unforgettable playoff run ended with a 1-0 loss to South Jersey champion Moorestown (16-4-2). It hardly diminished the indelible memories that the 2011 Huskies made for themselves, the school and the Matawan soccer community. BY TIM MORRIS Staff Writer last_img

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